Friday, June 27, 2008

MISSOURI NEWS: Floods Move Deer on to Highway

Motorists were urged to watch for fleeing deer on Highway 370 Wednesday as sprawling floodwaters invaded the animals' natural habitat.

On Tuesday night, the Missouri Department of Transportation shut down Highway 370 between the exits for Elm Street in St. Charles and Truman Boulevard/Cave Springs Road in St. Peters after deer were wandering onto the highway and being struck by vehicles.

The highway was reopened at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.MoDOT officials said they could close the highway a few more nights as flooding of the Mississippi River continues.

"We're going to evaluate the situation to determine whether or not we will close the highway again," MoDOT Engineer Jim Gremaud said Wednesday. "Deer don't move during the day and if the deer move a lot at night we will close it."

Gremaud said the Missouri State Highway Patrol had reported about nine incidents Tuesday in which deer had been hit.

"That's a very high number of deer accidents and that's what makes this a hazard," he said. "We don't want to put motorists at undue risk."

Lisa Bedian, a spokeswoman for the city of St. Peters, said city officials contacted emergency crews after noticing deer flocking to toward the highway.

The city owns a 300-acre park just north of the highway called Lakeside 370. A 140-acre lake is the park's centerpiece, which also includes wetland areas that have become home to at least two herds of deer.

"We are keeping updates on our city Web site and are trying not to disturb the deer living at Lakeside 370," she said.